Magic Leap’s $2.6 billion bait and switch

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TechMatters
April 27, 2020

Magic Leap’s $2.6 billion bait and switch

Two years ago I attended an” Invention in Immersive Storytelling” event at Industrial Light-headed& Magic, boasting the Chief Game Wizard of Magic Leap. I should have known then, from all the damaged corporate sorcery in that decision, that their downfall was inevitable. But in fact I went into that talk a Magic Leap skeptic, and came out … less so.

The Chief Game Wizard of Magic Leap has the relieved examine of a humanity whose firm has, 5 years and $1.6 billion last-minute, eventually secreted something, anything, for the adore of God Montresor. He is actually assuaging some of my considerable agnosticism re ML, too.

— Jon Evans (@ rezendi) March 20, 2018

Magic Leap selected in a lot of true disciples over the years; $2.6 billion worth. Investors included Andreessen Horowitz, Kleiner Perkins, Google( not Google Ventures — Google itself) and many many more. Sundar Pichai participated Magic Leap’s card. And did they rave. I signify, it’s a VC’s job to rave about their portfolio fellowships, but this was different 😛 TAGEND

Now there is something new. Not only an order-of-magnitude more pixels or a faster chassis proportion, but- thanks to sensors and optics and mobile phone volumes and breakthroughs in computer vision- something I always dreamed of … The product is amazing … this is different

Bing Gordon of Kleiner Perkins.

It was incredibly natural and almost jarring — you’re in the apartment, and there’s a dragon flying around, it’s jaw-dropping and I couldn’t get the smile off of my face

Legendary Pictures CEO Thomas Tull

5/ and having the Magic Leap demo is as impressive as the original multitouch demo. Maybe more so.

— Benedict Evans (@ benedictevans) February 11, 2017

Legendary and a16z had previously invested in Oculus Rift. Tull even told TechCrunch “Magic Leap takes a completely different approach.” This is especially interesting because when Magic Leap eventually — lastly, after 5 years and $1.6 billion — liberated a commodity, Oculus’s Palmer Luckey wrote a truly scathing teardown of the Magic Leap One. Again, yes he would do so … but the details are quite striking …

They call it the “Lightwear”. This is the part that has come the most hype over the years, with inexhaustible talk of “Photonic Lightfield Chips”, “Fiber Scanning Laser Displays”, “projecting a digital flame plain into the user’s eye”, and the holy-grail promise of solving vergence-accommodation conflict, an issue that has beset HMDs for decades … TL ;D R: The theorized “Photonic Lightfield Chips” are just waveguides working together with pondering sequential-color LCOS presentations and LED illumination, the same technology everyone else has been using for years, including Microsoft in their last-gen HoloLens. The ML1 is a not a “lightfield projector” or display by any broadly accepted definition

What happened to that “completely different approach?”

It’s worth noting there was some spin-that-more-than-verged-on-deception going on. Magic Leap ship an email to press with a video and the claim “This is a game we’re playing around the office right now”; subsequently, The Information revealed that entire video was F/ X, created by Weta Digital.

ML then secreted another video” filmed instantly through Magic Leap engineering on 10/14/ 15, without the use of special effects or compositing .” Was that true-life? Definitely a question worth asking, in light of what had happened with the previous video. But all things considered, the answer seems to be: “probably.” See likewise Kevin Kelly’s sparsely detailed megafeature on ML for Wired in 2016 😛 TAGEND

All three main MR headsets are dependent upon likeness that are projected edgeways onto a semitransparent material–usually glass with a finishing of nanoscale banks. The consumer verifies the outside through the glass, while the virtual components are projected from a light source at the edge of the glass and then reflected into the user’s eyes by the beam-splitting nano-ridges. Magic Leap claims that its machine is peculiar in the way it beams light into the eye, though the company diminishes to explain it further at this time.

How to square this with Luckey’s — so far as I know, undisputed — are of the view that Magic Leap’s mega-hyped “Lightwear” technology is nothing even remotely special? To say nothing of their compete failure to release a concoction which sparked anything remotely like the same joy or ebullience that its internal demos inspired in investors and reporters?

The answer is straightforward: “The Beast.”

As The Information’s Reed Albergotti revealed more than 3 years ago, “The Beast” was Magic Leap’s original demo casket. It was everything parties said. It was dazing, dreamlike, breakthrough technology. And it weighed” several hundred pounds .”

“The Beast” was followed by” The Cheesehead ,” which fit on a human manager, and” showed they could miniaturize the dawn orbit signal generator they’d devised” … but still weighed” tens of pounds ,” obviously far too heavy for any real-world works.( There are pictures of both in the linked CNET piece .)

“The Beast” and” The Cheesehead” help explain the multiple rounds of massive venture investment. But then — could Magic Leap miniaturize their breakthrough engineering further, to anything actually releasable?

Clearly they could not, and that’s the crux of the matter, the answer to how and why Magic Leap collected $2.6 trillion dollars, then laid off half its employees, while scarcely exhausting anything at all in seven years. To mention Vanity Fair quoting The Information quoting CEO Rony Abovitz 😛 TAGEND

The engineering behind The Beast is “not really what we’re ultimately going to be shipping, ” Abovitz told The Information, adding that examples were merely good for showing investors and others “what was good about it, what was not.”

Intended or not-I assume it wasn’t-Magic Leap became a $ 2.6 billion bait-and-switch, the consequences of which are now all too apparent.

Why are beings still opening Magic Leap coin ?” our own Lucas Matney queried a year ago. Their device marketings were terrible. Last-place month they aimed an acquisition for a $10 B price tag Josh Constine rightly called ” crazy .” Then they laid off half the company and swiveled to enterprise. Now the question we’re asking is” What happens if Magic Leap shuts down ?

Will “The Beast”‘ s technology eventually make its style into living rooms and dorm room and places? Maybe. Was that a thought usefulnes gambling $2.6 billion on over six years starting in 2014? Another perhap. But it was a bet that did not pay off. Ultimately, Magic Leap’s floor isn’t one that should feed rage, or anger, as much as sheer sadness that equipment is so hard, and that human gumptions — peculiarly sight — make for such a challenging improvement platform.

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